Marlar Makes History with Back-to-Back Knoxville Nationals Championships
Story By: Jeremy Shields/LOLMDS
Photos By: Heath Lawson/LOLMDS
KNOXVILLE, IA (September 16, 2017) – Mike Marlar became the first driver in the 14-year history of the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals to win in back-to-back years – taking the $40,000 top prize on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway. Marlar took the lead from race-leader Josh Richards on lap 92 and then sped away for the win in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned event.
Jonathan Davenport made a valiant charge in the last five laps to finish second after pitting for a right-front, flat tire on lap 50. Jared Landers, the 2015 winner of the race came home third, with Jimmy Mars and Jimmy Owens completing the top five drivers.
Davenport led the first 19 laps of the race until Richards took over the point. Richards then held the top spot until Marlar got by him late in the race. Richards had a right-front tire go down, putting him into the turn three wall. Richards changed the tire and ran just a few more laps before calling it a night. He was credited with an 18th place finish as his points lead over Tim McCreadie shrunk to just 90 points.
Marlar returned in his Ronnie Delk-owned, Rocket Chassis to defend his crown-jewel victory. “Tonight makes me feel really good about being a racecar driver. That wasn’t a race, that was a battle right there. With 25 to go, I thought man I need to start going and give it all I had. I let Jared Landers get by me and then I got back by him when he got high in turn one. I thought now I am good. I could run this thing to death. I think I could do it.”
“There was a caution as soon as I got passed by Landers. Luckily, I got back by him on the restart. I don’t think Josh was at his best when I caught him and passed him for the lead. I think he was having an issue. This is awesome. I want to thank Josh and Jerry for their help. Without them I couldn’t do this. They are back at the shop everyday working on the car. My car owner Ronnie Delk and my wife Stacy, thanks for all they do.”
Davenport came up just short of his first win in the event. “I had a plan on that last restart and it just worked out. I wondered where everyone was going. Everybody took off and went to the bottom of the track. They just left the door open for me and I took advantage of it. Our car wasn’t any good in traffic for whatever reason. The best car won the race. Josh must have been pretty good too. He passed me early on. I just to thank my guys for getting me back out there after we pitted.”
Landers sat out last year’s event due to an injury and returned this weekend to score two podium finishes. “I hurt my tires by lap 50. I was worried about it. I got up there with Josh and I had some good momentum going and I jumped the cushion and it hurt me. I cost us that spot. I will take a top-three. That was a lot of laps there. I hadn’t raced that hard for a while.”
Completing the top ten were Brandon Sheppard, Hudson O’Neal, Bobby Pierce, Steve Francis, and Tim McCreadie.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Saturday, September 16th, 2017
Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals
Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, IA
Penske Racing Shocks B-Main Finish (20 Laps, Top 6 Transfer to Back of A-Main): Jesse Stovall, Kyle Bronson, Steve Francis, Tyler Erb, Spencer Diercks, Brent Larson, Tyler Bruening, Matt Furman, Jonathan Brauns, Joey Moriarty, Ryan Gustin, Jeremiah Hurst, Randy Timms, Joel Callahan, Jake O’Neil, Mike Fryer, Dennis Erb, Jr., Dave Eckrich, Justin Duty, Jason Feger, Jordan Yaggy, Bob King, Boom Briggs, Jay Johnson, Colton Flinner
Feature Finish (100 Laps):
New Berlin, IL
Hudson O’Neal ®
Bowling Green, KY
Earl Pearson, Jr.
Lake Elmo, MN
New Waverly, TX
Mt. Vernon, IA
Gregg Satterlee ®
Rochester Mills, PA
Dennis Erb, Jr.
Boom Briggs ®
Bear Lake, PA
Lap Leaders: Jonathan Davenport (Laps 1 – 17); Josh Richards (Laps 18 – 91); Mike Marlar (Laps 92 – 100)
Cautions: Brian Shirley (Lap 17); Chris Simpson (Lap 27); Jimmy Mars (Lap 27); Shannon Babb (Lap 31); Gregg Satterlee (Lap 42); Tyler Erb (Lap 46); FUEL STOP (Lap 50); Don O’Neal (Lap 58); Rodney Sander s (Lap 75); Brandon Sheppard (Lap 77); Kyle Bronson (Lap 84); Josh Richards (Lap 95)
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Dennis Erb Jr.; Boom Briggs
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Emergency Provisionals: n/a
Wrisco Feature Winner: Mike Marlar
Optima Batteries Hard Charger of the Race: Steve Francis (Started: 27th; Finished: 9th; Advanced 16 Positions)
Midwest Sheet Metal Spoiler Challenge Point Leader: Josh Richards
Allstar Performance Power Move of the Race: Jonathan Davenport
Sunoco Race for Gas Highest Finisher: Mike Marlar
Hot Rod Processing Rookie of the Race: Hudson O’Neal
COMP Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Cornett Racing Engines
Ohlins Shocks Chassis Builder of the Race: Rocket Chassis
Outerwears Crew Chief of the Race: Zach Frields (Hudson O’Neal)
Fastest Lap of the Race: Jonathan Davenport (Lap #2 – 17.582 seconds)
Safecraft Most Laps Led: Josh Richards (74 Laps)
PFC Brakes Pole Award: Mike Marlar
Time of Race: 84 minutes 57 seconds